White River girls earn state berth with district win; Bonney Lake girls slip in semifinals

The White River High girls earned another trip to the Class 3A state basketball tournament with a hard-fought, 51-45 victory Wednesday night over the Auburn Mountainview Lions.

The South Puget Sound League 3A rivals met at Clover Park High for the winner-to-state, loser-out contest.

White River will be making its 11th state appearance during the 13 years Chris Gibson has coached the squad.

There was plenty of drama as the Hornets and Lions battled nearly even most of the way. The game was tied at 27 when they headed into the locker rooms at halftime, the Hornets built a nine-point advantage at 44-35 by the end of the third period, but Auburn Mountainview made it plenty interesting down the stretch. The Lions cut their deficit to 49-45 with a little more than two minutes remaining in the game but failed to score another point.

White River was its own worst enemy at crunch time, connecting on just three of 11 free throws during the fourth quarter.

There were plenty of bright spots, though. Kelsi Tyler and Sabra Sproul knocked down some big shots on the way to 13 points each. Sproul connected on a pair of 3-pointers in the second quarter when the Lions were trying to take control and Tyler accounted for five straight Hornet points in the fourth period. Leading scorer Brooke Paulson was held to nine points but hit a long, buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the close of the third period that fired up her teammates. Immediately before Paulson’s bomb, reserves Hailey Menzel and Kennedy Hobert had scored on offensive rebounds to give the Hornets a bit of breathing room.

With a state trip guaranteed, White River continues West Central-Southwest District tournament play Friday and Saturday. Those games are for seeding purposes only. With a Friday victory over Capital High, the Hornets would play Saturday for either the No. 4 or No. 6 seed out of districts. A Friday loss would mean a Saturday game for the No. 7 or No. 8 slot.

The Hornets will kick off state tournament play March 10 at the Tacoma Dome. All 16 tournament teams are guaranteed of playing at least two days in the four-day, double-elimination tournament.

In other West Central-Southwest District games:

The Bonney Lake High girls, who had already sealed their bid for the state tournament with a weekend win, fell in the semifinals. The Panthers trailed Prairie High of Battle Ground by 16 points at halftime, battled back to cut the deficit to just three points, but fell 44-38.

The game was played at Kent’s ShoWare Center.

Bonney Lake plays again at 3:30 p.m. Friday, again at ShoWare, against the Mount Rainier Rams. The winner will earn the district’s No. 3 seed into the state tournament while the loser goes as the No. 5 seed.

Click here to read more state tournament information.

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